October 30th, 2007
05:32 PM ET
6 years ago

Mukasey: Waterboarding 'repugnant,' no legal opinion

Mukasey says he personally finds waterboarding 'repugnant.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush's pick for attorney general, Judge Michael Mukasey, called the interrogation technique known as "waterboarding" a "repugnant" practice Tuesday, but again refused to say whether it violates U.S. laws banning torture.

As he did in his Oct. 18 confirmation hearing, Mukasey told Senate Judiciary Committee members that he has not received classified briefings on what techniques American interrogators are allowed to use and cannot make a legal judgment.

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Filed under: Michael Mukasey
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Michelle D. from Georgia

    When someone refuses to give you a straight answer...they're usually trying to hide something. Haven't we seen this behavior before with other Bush Appointees? How much wool does this administration think it can pull over our eyes?

    October 30, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. Christian, Tampa FL

    That's not really good enough. He needs to assure the American people that he will fight the 'repugnant' practice no matter what.

    October 30, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Ryan, New York, NY

    Don't become a terror suspect, tell the government the truth and you won't have to worry about it. When there are 'imminent danger' threatening the lives of American citizens, I want to find out what is going on ASAP.

    Posted By Bob, Seattle, WA : October 30, 2007 5:39 pm

    I seem to recall the President taking an oath to uphold the laws of this country and the Constitution. I don't seem to recall an oath to find out everything that's going on.

    Maybe when some of the Americans who support these tactics are taken in for questioning in a criminal matter, we should use some of these tactics. Then we'd find out if they felt still felt it was torture and if the method worked, or if people just said whatever would make the pain, near drowning experience, etc. stop. We could start with Karl Rove to find out what illegal, underhanded things he was a part of. Maybe we could finally get some memories back for Alberto Gonzales so he could testify about the US Attorney firings. The options are limitless.

    October 30, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  4. Carmen, Miami FL


    US laws do not cover enemy non-combatants, and right now basic human rights are things to step over and around instead of honor. Why do you think Bush and co. don't want to detail exactly what these "enhanced" interrogation techniques are? Because any normal person would be horrified.

    All this talk about "doing what is necessary to stop terrorism" is repugnant. We can't stand on any kind of moral ground in denouncing "evil" in the world if we ourselves practice some of it.

    October 30, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. D. Endo, Honolulu HI

    Anyone nominated by the Bush/Cheney regime is for torture. Believe it. This guys a lawyer who's keeping his options open by not answering the question. It's scary because I think he's smarter than gonzo which makes him more dangerous.

    October 30, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. Billy Gardner,Kansas

    If Judge Mukasey doesn't know what torture is and refuses to answer questions regarding it,he has no business being Attorney General.He is
    behaving like the man who nominated him.

    October 30, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  7. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    This man should not be confirmed.

    Not only is waterboarding repugnant; it is also a violation of the Geneva Convention, US law and any moral idea of what this country is or was about.

    On more than several of his answers he indicates that it depends on the circumstances, and that the President may overrule the law or grant exceptions.

    Constitutionally his arguments are all wet. Contrary to what the Neo-cons and Richard Nixon thought; the President and his administration are not above the law.

    Send this Judge and his flawed ideas back to retirement.

    October 30, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  8. Brian, Orlando, Florida

    If you wouldn't do it to your own child then its Torture!

    Free the World!

    October 30, 2007 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  9. Rex, Toledo, Ohio

    .....and yet they'll confirm him.....

    October 30, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Dave, Alpharetta GA

    REJECT THIS GUY! if he is too stupid to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture. Of course, who did you expect Boy-Bush to recommend?

    October 30, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. Edward A. Fuquay Wellington, Ohio

    If waterboarding is not torture, what is? Repugnant but legal? Sounds like Gonzales all over again. Torture is not a reliable means to obtain information. If you were being tortured and did not know anything about what you are being tortured for, you are going to invent whatever lie to stop the torture. If you have the information that your torturers want, most likely you are not going to say a thing. You want the plot to work and kill as many of your torturers as possible regardless of what happens to you.

    October 30, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. ronnie knoxville, tn

    does anyone have a better idea than torture to get information from the likes of Mohammed Atta et al. about their plots to blow up American institutions?

    October 30, 2007 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. Steve - Peoria, IL

    If someone is coming to lop off my head with a machete, I think it's understandable to use torture.

    October 30, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Sam, Portland OR

    To Bob, the first poster here:
    "Don't become a terror suspect"? I hope that was sarcasm. Do you even know what the words suspect, innocent, and guilty mean?

    And second, are you not willing to die for your freedom and convictions? I'd rather die from a terrorist attack in a just and free nation. Sometimes, freedom and justice will cost more lives, are you not willing to pay that price?

    October 30, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  15. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Is the Definition of the word 'torture' in related separation with 'torment' but questioned in cases where interrogation is involved.

    Torment can be cause unintentionally. Torture is inflicted with malice. Interrogation proceeds without physical contact, must be set in a room no smaller than 8'*10' but can be conducted by multiple individuals at once(the room has no regulated capacity), an interrogation has no time limit but the basic bodily functions must be freely allowed by not wholly accommodated, and restraints are in order when the interrogator is deemed threatened.

    One who undergoes interrogation must be allowed an attorney as referee, but held outside the room, and the inmate must be held with reason beyond suspicious activity, or the lawyer is allowed to directly consult under Habeas Corpus. In a bound interrogation due force may be answered.

    October 30, 2007 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  16. Terry, El Paso, TX

    I guess that the Attorney General designate is going to crumble as quickly and thoroughly as his two predecessors. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "I could carve more backbone out of a banana."

    We ALL know that waterboarding is torture. Legal mealy-mouthing doesn't change what we all know.

    I personally don't worry too much about punishing the guilty, particularly terrorists who make war by killing the unarmed and harmless. I figure what the hell, they have probably killed a few innocent people already and would be willing to kill at few more. They would probably be willing to torture me, and I don't mean with a tub of water; I mean with an electric drill and a jug of bleach. For example, I saw no compelling reason to try Saddam Hussein. The purpose of a trial is to determine innocence of guilt, and he was guiltier than sin.

    That said, I don't believe in punishing people who have not been tried. I am sure that there are some, perhaps many, innocent people in cells, dungeons, and other hell holes delivered there by employees and agents of our federal government, God forgive us. Even WITH trials, juries, lawyers, and due process, innocent men and women are found in our prisons. For every one released, I wonder how many will serve their sentence without ever being able to convince anyone of their innocence.

    Many of these prisoners were teenagers or twenty-somethings when they were incarcerated. Parents, how long would I have to hold your teenage son under water before he would confess to anti-American activities? How long would your boy last handcuffed in a pretzel, blindfolded, and laying in a puddle of his own urine? A day? A couple of days? I would probably confess to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after a day or two of that and a few good kicks in the groin.

    We are all going to have to explain to our Maker our part in this one day. I personally don't have any real good excuses thought out. Frankly, I am a little nervous about it.

    October 30, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  17. Ron, New Haven in Connecticut

    Let's not forget that Dodd led on this one.

    October 30, 2007 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  18. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Send His Honor to Gitmo for a weekend to experience it for himself. I hear it focuses your legal judgment like nothing else.

    October 30, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  19. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    The Clowns in Congress would be the first to scream " Mukasey did not do enough to prevent that attack on (fill in the blank )city"

    Showboating by our elected non represenatives, nothing more, nothin less.

    October 30, 2007 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  20. Cathy, Kennesaw GA

    Bob in Seattle,

    I hope you are OK with our soldiers being waterboarded by the enemy. It was our observance of the Geneva Conventions that often kept them safe and allowed us to prosecute those who tortured at the Hague...we no longer have that moral perogative.

    October 30, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  21. Royce Warren, British Columbia

    Waterboarding? Torture? Its just like sailing.

    October 30, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  22. dukesjames griffin ga.

    to mr bob of the great state of wa, city of seattle one of the best of places; mr bob the government is not looking for any terrorist ok because there are none in the country-granted there are a lot of ticked off people but terrorist no way. what the bush people are looking for are the geeks those nerds the people who figured it out that is the bush people fear it is a real fear those people are really scared because they know that some-force is on thier butts and will nail them politically one by one they will be ruined never to serve again as well as it should be. so bob there are no terrorist here in this country except for a number of ticked off americans who some day just might cause a problem. any-one can become a terror suspect all one has to do is anger the wrong person.

    October 31, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  23. Mrs. America

    Refusing to answer the question convinces me he's not the right guy. If there's a law, he should know something about it. He's either ignorant or hiding something, either of which would make him unfit for the job. And I felt positive about him until this.

    October 31, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  24. dk

    If you think torture is OK because "American lives are threatened" then you are no better than the terrorists. We as a country should take the high road and let the world know we are better than they are. Evidently some of us aren't.

    October 31, 2007 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  25. SB

    Pack your bags. Your services will not be needed here.

    October 31, 2007 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
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